Yesterday I took a pilgrimage to a place in Ottawa I have revered for quite some time. No…not Parliament. Not the National Gallery. Not 24 Sussex.
I went to Sam Bats.
What? You never heard of it?
Sam Holman is to baseball bats what Michelangelo was to painting. What Stradivarius was to violins. What Shakespeare was to writing. Sam makes the best bats on the planet.
Sam Holman invented and patented the first maple bat that was approved for play in the Major Leagues. A friend of his who was a major league scout was complaining to Sam — an expert in wood and woodworking — that bats were breaking too easily. He asked if Sam could come up with something better. After much research Sam decided Canadian Maple was just the thing to replace American Ash. The rest — as they say — is history.
One of the first to use a Sam Bat was Joe Carter. But the most famous customer (besides my son of course) was Barry Bonds; it was Barry who made the bats famous. I got to see, and even to hold, one of the bats Barry Bonds used to hit his record-breaking 73 home runs in a season. While I learned a lot on my tour, the highlight was the explanation of why the Bonds bat has such an unusually large and flat knob on the end. It turns out Bonds used to lean on the bat with one hand while he was waiting to take batting practice, and a smaller rounder knob hurt his hand!!
Sam and company president Arlene Anderson showed me how the bats are made, from selecting the wood to hand-painting the colors. Each one is like a fine piece of furniture. And I’m really excited to now be the proud owner of my very own Sam Bat.
I get a lot of factory tours in my job. This one was special.